My Two Cents – Blue Like Jazz

Opening night in Louisville for Blue Like Jazz (7:10 show) was sparse with spectators.  I would estimate about 30 people in the theater.  For prime time opening night I was expecting a few more patrons than that.  However, I live in an area where it is hard to find people who challenge the “church” system and the status quo, so any “churchgoer” living around the Metro area would likely walk out after the first 10 minutes of the film (if they even knew it existed), so having only 30 people does not surprise me.

Actually anyone coming into this show thinking it is a so-called “Christian” movie like “Fireproof” or “Courageous” would be extremely disappointed, and probably would have left before the movie even started due to some racy previews as 3 or 4 of them were rated R with kissing lesbians, and sex on-screen.  (And we all know it is a sin to see a rated R movie, right? 🙂 )

Director Steve Taylor did not pigeonhole this flick as a “Christian” as an adjective movie.   Blue Like Jazz does not at all feel like a “Christian” movie.  But, although I found the movie itself mediocre at best, a tad hard to follow, and difficult to decipher what was going on in Donald’s mind, I do think it is a movie for Christians to see.  Unfortunately, many “fundies” would not even give this movie a chance, so I see a lot of “preaching to the choir” going on with the one.

The positive thing for this movie is you come out asking a bunch of questions on a plethora of subjects.  I think we might all see echoes of our own stumbling journeys: our insecurities, our hypocrisies, our pain.  We might even feel a little convicted, but the movie only hints at answers.  Which is good, because do we really have all the right answers?  If the movie told me exactly what the answer was on these subjects I would have vomited right there on site.

The movie exposes a lot of the bullshit underneath the umbrella of any denominational dogma, which I liked because this exposure of bullshit is exactly what my blog is about.  Mr.Miller is another person allergic to BS, and he went to Reed College to try an escape it (to only find it in different form).  Remember, it is not about the people inside the system, it is about the bullshit the system dumps into our heads forcefully.

This movie definitely doesn’t present a “plan of salvation”, and it does not march a bunch of foot soldiers (wearing the armor of God) to the cadence of specific doctrine.  Instead what I took away from it was that it let people see the little streaks of light (Christ) poking through the misdirection of a college student that was trying so hard to get as far away from God as possible.  God never leaves, and you cannot escape Him.. he is everywhere.  He is even at the so-called “God-less” liberal arts colleges.

Donald Miller has a different story than mine for leaving the religion, or for me the institutional church.  He was hurt from people he trusted within the church, and hypocrisy sent him packing.  For me, I was never directly hurt by anyone within the church, just after time of trying to find Christ in community I started to see the bullshit in the system through my allergic watery eyes.  Yes, I was saddened when I left the church and no one called or even gave a shit (even though I let everyone know I was not leaving them).  However, I was not surprised when no one cared that I did not attend anymore, because I knew I was living in a false sense of community.  I was living in fake, no heart only surface world, and I would have been completely blown off my rocker if the people I knew for years wanted to actually keep me in their lives even though I was not in the system they so treasured and worshipped.

Unfortunately many of the people sitting in the seats of this film are pretty much already on the same page as Donald Miller, so to have this film bring out good discussion among all Christ followers I see as non-existent.

Anyone else see this movie?  What were your thoughts?

12 thoughts on “My Two Cents – Blue Like Jazz

  1. Yes, My wife and I saw the movie last night at the downtown theater in Chattanooga. The place was packed, which was unusual for this theater. Although my wife and I both are far and away out of the church box, she was a little uncomfortable with the lack of clear direction to Christ at the end. I on the other hand simply loved it! Questions, questions, questions, that is the name of my game. The were a very large contingent of late teen and early twenty somethings. That was not surprising being within walking distance of UTC. But the discussions that were happening everywhere immediately following the movie were priceless. One group were speculating if Francis Chan will still endorse it, with cuss words and lesbians in the movie. Others were asking what the target audience might have been, and with each potential target audience what would have the movie had said to them.
    To me it said, yes institutional church sucks, it is broken, it does not work, yea for that. But it also left the door open that there is a reality in Jesus, and it is worth looking for.

    1. Tony – Your last couple sentences are great!!! There is a reality in Jesus worth looking for, and I am in agreement.. He is really hard to find within the man-made institutional walls.

      Also, if I was in the group that was talking and speculating about Francis Chan endorsing or not, I would ask them why they would even care if he endorses or not? Do they not go see it if Francis is against it?

      I think the target audience is a tough one to clarify. I would guess the obvious choice is for college kids that are searching for something to fill that void in their heart.

      The movie lets you know the void can be filled in many of places (even so-called God-less colleges) and the institutional church most likely is not.

      Thanks for the great comment!!!!

  2. Good review, bro.

    I especially liked, “The positive thing for this movie is you come out asking a bunch of questions on a plethora of subjects.  I think we might all see echoes of our own stumbling journeys: our insecurities, our hypocrisies, our pain.”

    I use to challenge all my people to read BLJ by saying, “if you’re a Christian and haven’t read BLJ, you should be ashamed of yourself.” I’ve been a bit dubious about the film. I don’t know why.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

    1. Thanks Bonar. I was a tad suspect myself going in. The movie itself could have been done a lot better, but for a low budget film I am sure he got the points across that he wanted.


  3. There’s a “Blue Like Jazz” movie..?

    I honestly didn’t know this was a thing. Maybe someone mentioned it on Acuff’s blog at some point..?

    I never read the book. (1) I’ve always, always preferred fiction; (2) I feel like I always have a billion other books to finish first.

    I’m not sure which state your Louisville is in, but was this shown in a more artsy theater? We have one here in M-town called “The Capri”. It’s where most of the more obscure and artsy films are shown. There’s rarely a large crowd.

    Could the lack of crowd be more due to lack of advertising, than lack of folks who would want to see it? After all, that book was actually incredibly popular in what you call the “fundie” circles, from what I understand. 🙂 (I know zillions of church folk who kept talking about how much they love it. Also not entirely sure what your definition of “fundie” is, given that it could mean anything from just your average Sunday morning/Wednesday evening church-goer to a hard-core, Hell and Damnation backwater preacher.)

    I hope one day you can find a Christian community to really connect with, one that you can really sink your heart and soul into. *hugs*

    1. Lady Tam Li – I am in Kentucky. It was not an artsy theater at all. A huge Cineplex. I think if it was in a theater closer to the university it would have seen more viewers.

      If you end up seeing it, I would like to know what you think 🙂

      Take care.

  4. For a while, BLJ was the top book I gave away. Even gave it to all of my neighbors as a Christmas gift years ago (that may have been more weird than good, I don’t know). Anyway, I’ve heard mixed reviews about the movie, mostly because of the mediocre quality. But if it’s moving away from (which, if it stays true to the book at all, then this is a no brainer) the typical Christian movie bullshit, then I’m all for it. We’ll hopefully get to see it soon. If we do, I’ll come back here and let you know what I think.

  5. I’m all for breaking away from the “traditional church” when we are talking about getting away from the lack of focus on things that really matter to Christ. However, I’m not ready to “throw out the baby with the bathwater,” so to speak. Haven’t read the book or seen the movie (hope to do both), but I do think we have a very strong foundation of faith (and especially in the U.S.) thanks to the strong evangelical voices found in many, many churches.

    Swanny, I think your voice, Donald’s & other commenters here are so very important. I share many concerns you mention…but let’s not give up on God’s power to work mightily through institutional churches. Or even overtly Christian movies 🙂

    You’ve got a great thing going with this blog…

  6. New View – Welcome!!!

    I am with you.

    I do not want to ever give up on the people that make up the Body of Christ. I might not agree with the institutional church system, but I do agree that we need to all minister to each other regardless of where you are.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Looking forward to your thoughts.

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